Richard C. Towne, a professor emeritus of exceptional education at Buffalo State College and a U.S. Army veteran of the Korean War, died Monday (Dec. 27, 1999) in Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester, while awaiting a liver transplant. He was 64.
"Dick was an outstanding educator, loved by his students and his colleagues," said Thomas J. Quatroche Sr., recently retired provost and vice president for academic affairs at Buffalo State and a close friend of Towne's.
"Dick's contributions to the campus in terms of governance and educational endeavors will be missed tremendously," Quatroche said. "He contributed immensely to the development of the exceptional-education department as it is today. He was very instrumental not only in college governance procedures, but also within (the State University of New York).
Towne taught part time after his 1995 retirement, Quatroche noted, and recently served on a Middle States planning committee at the college.
A native of Dunkirk, Towne was a graduate of Sheridan School 8 and Dunkirk High School and served as a corporal in the Army in Korea.
He earned a bachelor's degree in English from Fredonia State College, a master's degree in English from Canisius College and a master's degree in guidance counseling as well as a doctorate in education from Michigan State University.
Before joining the Buffalo State faculty in 1966, he taught English in Brocton, Fredonia and Niagara-Wheatfield schools.
He focused on exceptional education at Buffalo State and was a former chairman as well as faculty member of the college's exceptional-education department.
During his three decades at Buffalo State, he served on both the College Senate and the SUNY Senate. He was awarded the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Skilled at grant writing, he was a writer, consultant, project evaluator and project director for a number of state and federal grants awarded to Buffalo State, and to not-for-profit agencies.
At his death, he was a member of the Board of Education of the Hopevale Union Free School District in the Town of Hamburg and the board of directors of Hopevale Inc.
Towne, of Hamburg, was a man who brought his "passion for excellence in his professional life" into his personal life, noted his daughter, Gayle Towne Murphy of Hamburg.
She called Towne a devoted husband and a "kind, loving and supportive father" whose grandchildren were "the loves of his life."
"He was a fiercely competitive racquetball and poker player," she recalled. "He also loved to kayak and play pingpong and softball. He was the ultimate fisherman."
Survivors, besides his daughter, include his wife of 43 years, the former Elaine Grace Zuppiroli; a son, Gregory C. of Clarence; two sisters, Nancy Tylock of Fredonia and Diane Kissinger of Eldorado Hills, Calif.; a brother, William of Bermuda Dunes, Calif.; and four grandchildren.
A memorial Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday in SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, 68 E. Main St., Hamburg. Burial, in St. Anthony Cemetery, Fredonia, will be private.